I came home from my lovely day at Fallowfields yesterday with a goody bag – a beautiful loaf, a soft-boiled egg Scotch egg (that made a great supper last night) and a large turnip and some honey. Turnips are at their best either in the spring, when tiny baby turnips are wonderful cooked whole and tossed in butter, or now, as we head into winter, when there are larger ones. They have a slightly bad reputation but are in fact delicious vegetables and rich in nutrients, especially Vitamin C. There’s a hint of peppery bitterness but also a lovely sweetness. I wanted to cook mine straight away while it was fresh so came up with a delicious recipe to use it with some of the honey, and served it in place of potatoes.
Firstly, peel the turnip and cut it into largish chip-shaped pieces and boil for about 5 minutes in salted water till al dente – just tender – and drain. Be careful not to overcook or they will fall apart during the next stage of cooking. Now, take about 1 tablepsoon of soft butter; strip about 4 stalks of fresh thyme of the leaves and add to the butter; use a zester to grate the zest of half a lemon into the butter and then squeeze the juice of the half lemon in with a good grating of black pepper. Mix well and spread over a skinned chicken breast.
Cook the chicken in a 180 Fan/200C oven for about 30 minutes until just cooked; baste with some of the lemon, buttery juices about halfway through. This smells wonderful as it cooks! When the chicken is done, leave to rest while you finish off the turnips. Melt a heaped teaspoon of butter in a frying pan with a teaspoon of honey. Stir to mix and add the drained turnip ‘chips’. Cook gently, turning occasionally – very carefully so you don’t break them up. When nicely golden brown, serve with the chicken and some green salad or green vegetables.